(122-02-24) Like Mother, Not Like Son
Like Mother, Not Like Son
Summary: Wylliam Stark, recently returned home, speaks to with his mother.
Date: 24/02/2015
Related: None

Weirwood Manse
Old Street
Tue Feb 24, 122 ((Tue Feb 24 08:27:02 2015))
It is a summer morning. The weather is cool and overcast.

This is one of the oldest houses in the city, a large square structure of pale grey-brown stone, squat and heavy. On its facade is a mosaic of small, thick, white and red bricks, set deep into the stone facade of the rowhouse. They form a mosaic image beside its door — a weirwood tree with its white trunk and branches and its red leaves. The image doesn't have a face, but from time to time someone will paint one on, and someone else will scrub it off. Like most houses in Oldtown, there are few windows on the street level, only small high ones to let in a little light. The upper stories have unevenly sized and spaced windows that from the outside appear to be caught in the weirwood's branches.

The living space in the ground floor consists only of a single large hall, with a massive hearth, a long plank trestle-table, and a group of leather-covered chairs set off to one side. There's a spot on the back wall where there used to be a door but it's been filled in with stone blocks, probably when the garden became the jumble of buildings that stand there now. The rest of the bottom floor is taken up by a smallish kitchen and a large private stable that one can access from outside or from a narrow door beside the stairs. The staircase is wide, made of blackened wood that's aged hard as stone but bears dips in the treads from centuries of feet.

It's a cool day in Oldtown. The chill in the air may be nothing but a light breeze to the northmen who reside in the Weirwood Manse, but the especially grey day sees a fire in the hearth. Its crackles and pops fill the ground floor hall, almost echoing, the silence between seeming hollow; there's no bustle of activity to fill it. Only one figure sits in the large space, taking over one of the leatherbound chairs nearest the hearth. Silent as she sits, Hellan's presence can nevertheless fill a room. Her dress today is dark, black and Stark grey, and it remains to be seen if her mood matches. She stares into the fire; not so near that its flames warm her pale face. A sword leans against the chair.

Wylliam enters the room with careful steps, he is wry of his mother never knowing what mood he shall find her in. He has been gone a while now, gone up north with his beloved father learning the ways of the northern man and perhaps even maturing a little. The young man before Hellan is not the same that left all those months ago, he is taller, his cheek filled out so his face has lost of that baby look. His manner even more matured as he holds himself erect and proudly head high and a hand idly laid upon the hilt of his sword. "Good day, mother." He tells her in his quiet way.

It takes her a moment to turn her neck, and when she does lay her icy eyes upon him, it takes another moment still for the haze in front of them to clear. Focusing on Wylliam, Hellan's brows turn in, taking in a fuller sight of him than she has since his recent return. Until now he's been nothing but glimpses, a few words here and there in-between her frequent spells of hibernating. Her gaze is both unscrupulous and indecipherable. "You look well." Statement of fact in her deep voice. There's little compliment in her tone, but the words themselves are rare enough. She looks back to the fire.

Wylliam gives her a long look. "I wish I could say the same for you." He tells her, his tone implying his discontent with her current state. "People are talking, mother and its not good." He continues approaching her slowly, his hand still resting on his hilt, he comes before her, his eyes going to stare down at her. "Do you not think it is time to shake off this." He waves his hand around. "This whatever it is you are doing, self exile, self loathing, mourning, whatever. You need to join the world again mother." He tells her the latter in a more gentler tone.

Hellan's head snaps up suddenly to look again to Wylliam while the rest of her remains stone still; the movement is vaguely reminiscent of a predator freezing and turning to look when they hear something in the bush. She studies her growing son critically, some wonder in her gaze. Mostly, it is overtaken by offense. "Have you gained skill and lost manners?" she asks him frankly, spoken slowly, purposefully, with a building threat. "You would talk to your mother this way?"

Wylliam shakes his head. "My manners, perhaps a little but have you forgotten you are a mother and a wife, a great Lady of a Great house. We need you mother." He tells her his tone almost pleading. "I need you, I've lost Esselyn, Genevra has stayed up north…Whom else do I have but you?" He knees down before her reaching for her hands. "Mother, let me help you, please tell me what do I have to do to make you happy?"

The rigid set of her face and offense in her eyes— she looks ready to battle, to cut down the source of the offending words, even if it is her own son. The Battle-Axe of Bear Island. That was Hellan. Once. Now, her gaze starts to change; she starts to look down at Wylliam as if she's never seen such a creature before, as if his words are strange and foreign and unintelligible, his question — happiness — unanswerable. There's an elusive softness in that confused look, making her conflicted. She lifts her chin and grabs the hilt of the sword leaning against the chair, pushing it toward Wylliam. "You can sharpen my sword, for a start," she says, sounding annoyed.

Wylliam was ready to do battle with his mother, ready to pit his will against her's as he had promised his father. "Of course mother, it would be my pleasure." He tells her, taking the sword, for half a moment he thought she was going to come at him with it. Which would have been stupid, everyone knows he is the finest swordsman this part of the world.

Hellan would have a thing or two to say about that, but as it is, she simply eyes her son with something akin to suspicion. The same look transfers to the weapon she's handed off to him; she has nowhere to use it, but she's protective of it all the same. It bears little decoration, making up for it by being well-crafted, castle-forged steel. "Don't lose it," she insists. She leans her stiff posture back into the chair, narrowing her eyes. "How is your swordsmanship coming?"

Wylliam gives her a long look. "Mother, please. I'm not some child anymore. I would never lose something so finely crafted." He says taking the sword in both hands so he might admire it more closely. "You have heard about Esselyn?" He asks, barely containing the grief in his voice.

"I have heard nothing of her," Hellan states. "Of late, that is strong enough evidence to assume one dead and gone." There is no empathy to reach out toward Wylliam's grief; there is nothing but cold fact. Only afterward does she seem to realize and sighs. "She was not good enough for you, anyhow; you'll be better off. You're a Stark of Winterfell, not a lovesick fool."

Wylliam shakes his head. "She was beautiful and funny and perfect mother, but as you say, she was not good enough." He says it without little meaning. "There are plenty more, where she came from." He says passively his eyes still on the sword. He'd rather have a good sword then a good woman any day.

"Mm," Hellan agrees, scarcely more than a husky grunt but vaguely approving. She sets her arms upon those of the chair and crosses her legs. "You'd best find better pursuits than silly girls here in Oldtown. What grand plan do you, or should I say your father," a helping of cool sarcasm seeps into her voice, "have for you now that you're back in this rain-soaked southron pit of a city?"

Wylliam glances over at his mother, his face passive his stance a little more relaxed, she is at least talking to him now. "His orders were simply." He tells her. "To get you out of your semi-gloom and back into the great lady you were." He holds up his hand, for silence. "He knows he is to blame, but that doesn't mean you have to be angry at him for the rest of your life. Move on get over his past mistakes, our house is slipping our name fading. My cousin hasn't done much in the last few months, so it is up to you and I to do something about that." He explains. "Something I know you will enjoy sinking your teeth into." He gives her a sly smile.

Hellan rolls her eyes so far they may tumble all the way into the hearth, by the looks of it. "We are not slipping. The Stark name is as strong as it ever was. You are simply young and have a narrow view of the world and a high view of yourself, and apparently so does your father," she explains, a sigh stretching her last words out. She lifts a long hand to wave dismissively before clutching the arm of the chair slightly. "I do intend to keep an eye on all these boys," she says quieter, more agreeingly if bitterly, almost muttering, "Gods know they do need it."

Wylliam nods his head, a sly smile spreading across his lips, he is getting something out of her. "Would you also, look into a Janei Tyrell for me, she is young but has caught my interest. I assume a Tyrell isn't too blow me?" He says, then grins. "You do not hear our name as often as I would like. Though I have been entering tournaments in hopes of getting a good reputation for swordsmanship and general combat."

Hellan mumbles something largely indecipherable, but the word "Tyrells" stands out. "They are a strong, rich family." Family of what, she doesn't elaborate on. "Andolin is friends with Lord Loryn Tyrell. You may ask him about the girl. Or should I say Ser Andolin? He got knighted while you were away. Gods save us all if all of you Stark boys start being blessed," sarcasm, "by the Seven. If that's what it takes to rise our name, I'd rather remain thought of as the northern savages some of these pompous Reachlanders think us."

Wylliam rolls his eyes at his mother. "I hardly wished to be blessed, I'd rather make a name for ourselves through deeds and whatever else." He says going to place the sword down. "And mother it would only be proper if you enquired after the girl for me, rather then a friend of a friend. We do have to keep up proper tradition and etiquette."

"A friend can better tell if she's monstrous before proceeding," Hellan points out, irritated. "You're infatuated with the first girl you've seen."

A servant slinks into the hall just then, soft-footed and carrying a tray with cups and a pitcher of wine. He must have grown accustomed to Hellan's presence in the manse, coming to stand at a distance until she nods her acceptance, whereupon he pours her a cup of red. He then turns to offer Wylliam the same. "M'lord?"

Wylliam nods his head. "Please." He says, turning back to his mother and waiting to hear what else she has to say.

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